In the past, companies would seek to hire career professionals for the long-term when upgrading or expanding their capabilities to meet demand. The modern workforce, however, has shifted away from this model somewhat, presenting an opportunity to work with talented freelancers instead of taking on permanent staff. Freelancing appeals to both companies and individuals who want total flexibility in their work relationship. If your company is looking to fully benefit from our modern freelance age, make sure to follow these tips to attract and retain great talent.
Pay Fairly and On Time
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Before you start searching for freelance workers to take on some of the workload, it’s important that your company develops a strategy around pay rates and practices for these team members. One of the most common complaints freelancers make is the lag time between completed work and payment. Your company will lose out on top talent if your accounts payable department is looking after freelance invoices late. When faced with a decision between a client who pays on time and one who doesn’t, a person is much more likely to focus their energy on the first client.
On the flip side, if you’re the client that offers speedy payment, which is typically within hours or a single business day of receiving an invoice, your best freelancers will likely make your work a top priority. It’s also important to offer fair rates for the work you’re offering to freelance professionals. Some companies negotiate lower rates with skilled professionals, but those contract workers are likely working for other clients at more competitive rates. If they need to free up some time in their schedules or take on more work, freelancers are likely to ditch the low-paying clients and focus on those that pay better.
Offer Clear Direction Upfront
One mistake that many companies make with freelance workers is mistakenly thinking they don’t have to offer much direction. Many freelancers work in creative fields, such as content production, graphic design, and online services, but don’t let that confuse you into thinking they don’t need direction. With the right information, a professional working on a freelance basis can use his or her creativity to come up with unique and fresh ideas that bring new perspective to your business. However, to get to that point, they need to understand your brand, clients, and expectations.
Many first-time hirers of freelance workers end up wasting a lot of time going back and forth on assignments that they believe have missed the mark. When you’re clear and upfront from the start, while providing the resources needed, you can set up the freelance worker for success.
Treat Them Like “Regular” Workers
With the increase in employees working remotely and putting in hours outside of the typical business schedule, you can find a number of articles about why treating your remote workers like “regular” employees is important. When a worker feels disconnected from the rest of the team, it’s hard for that person to collaborate and stay in the loop about changes to and ideas about a specific project.
When you decide to hire a freelance worker, make sure to include them in communication about related projects. If you check in with your team members on a daily or weekly basis, include those who aren’t in the office – stay connected with your whole team!
Keep the Work Interesting
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No one wants to work on projects that don’t offer stimulation or excitement. While there are some industries that may not seem the most glamorous, there are always ways to dress up the work and make it more appealing. Instead of assigning freelance workers the same projects every time, think about ways that they can flex their creative muscles and produce something more exciting.
Designers may thrive when creating infographics instead of putting together another basic brochure. A content writer might come up with something new when working on a blog post that speaks directly to your clients. Looking for new ways to get your messaging across can also help appeal to and engage with your audience.
You may never meet your freelance workers in person. This disembodiment of your team has the potential to lead to a harsh, frosty work environment. When you have to share physical space with those you work with, you’ll find you naturally act in a more professional manner, which is an essential part of healthy working relationships. You need to bring this professionalism to the virtual space, ensuring you deal with your freelance talent as if they were coexisting in your office.
Be mindful not to scold your freelancers before you understand their situations. Respect them by always allowing ample time to work on assignments and outline expectations of turnaround times before making them an offer. Review emails before you send them to make sure that your tone is professional, respectful, and constructive/
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When you’re working with contract professionals, they need to know that your door is (figuratively) open for communication. It’s a better use of time to hash out details and make sure that you’re both on the same page before you get the first draft of a project. Talk to your freelancers to find out their preferred methods of communication, and then follow-up via those methods for the best results. If you’re only available during business hours etc., communicate that upfront as well.
There are a number of tools and resources available to help you find good candidates for freelance work, as well as to track those you do hire to take on some of the projects. Take advantage of these resources to improve the experience for your company as well as for the freelancer. You can also work with an external company that will find and manage the freelance workers so your company doesn’t have to take on this aspect of the job.
According to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 40 percent of workers in the U.S. are working in contingent jobs, which includes contractor workers, on-call workers, temp workers, freelance workers, independent contractors, part-time workers, and self-employed people. Your company can join the movement by hiring contingent workers to take on work and produce great results, all while enjoying the benefits of a flexible work schedule.